WFH is a Prime Environment for Ransomware Attacks

Greg Edwards

Employees need a safe working environment. Whether on a construction site or sitting in an office, employees need guidance and support to ensure they stay true to workplace procedures and best practices. This is a big concern with the pandemic forcing many businesses to shift – temporarily, if not permanently − to WFH environments.

How do those needing at least a minimal level of supervision do when they lose that support? For MSPs, one major concern is monitoring, tracking, and enforcing policies related to the online habits of end-users. Those tools and best practices are essential for boosting cybersecurity hygiene and minimizing risks and potential incidents.

Technology can be the remote worker’s enabler AND protector. While there are a tremendous number of benefits for businesses and workers in a WFH environment, everyone needs to realize the dangers it presents to those who need ongoing guidance and coaching. Remote work can be a breeding ground for lax behaviors and affords a great deal of freedom to every employee, including those with insufficient regard for policies and rules.

When organizations place the latter group in WFH environments, the risks of security failures increase measurably, including the most dangerous current threat: ransomware.

People Are Not the Only WFH Vulnerability

The human factor plays a huge part in data protection. However, there are other elements of remote work that every company (and the MSPs who support them) must address to keep their people and information secure. One of the big concerns is the safety provided by the technologies people use to access their business systems and critical files.

Many companies shifted employees away from the safety of their office workstations and firewalls. Those workers may still be operating in makeshift environments, some using kitchen tables and desks in the corner of their spare bedrooms. More concerning are those using improvised and questionable technologies to access work systems and communicate and share valuable (and possibly sensitive) business information.

The risks presented by outdated and unsecured equipment may not rise to the level of human error in the remote workforce, but that combination makes those environments ripe for exploitation. Cybercriminals are thriving during the pandemic, thanks to all the new openings created by the shift to WFH.

Ransomware Risks on the Rise

Uncertainty and chaos often lead to more problems for businesses. Organizations are increasingly looking to MSPs to assist them with the many issues associated with the continuing adoption of WFH environments, from connectivity and cloud services concerns to security and help desk support. Your clients need to be confident that their employees have effective systems for conducting their work and a quality team of technical professionals working behind the scenes to keep everyone safe and productive.


Ransomware attacks on those working in remote environments are complicating that job.

The pandemic is upping the game between IT professionals and cybercriminals. More than 1.4 million ransomware attacks were recorded in just the first half of 2020, a 20% increase globally from the previous year. Unfortunately, for U.S.-based businesses, those incidents soared an astounding 109% during the same time frame. Many experts point to the upheaval in many workplaces, including the shift to WFH environments, as a principal driver of the rise in ransomware attacks.

The situation sets up perfectly for cybercriminals. In a WFH environment, people are typically more relaxed, which may lessen their enthusiasm about company cybersecurity best practices. Without the normal office oversight, employees’ attention to detail may tend to wane, and they may overlook potential threats. To complete the trifecta of risk is having workers access business systems using unsecured devices and routers or visiting disreputable websites, further exposing that system (and the business) to a malware attack.

Ransomware is opportunistic. If not properly secured and managed, WFH creates a rich environment for cybercriminals and opens a pathway to more lucrative corporate systems.

Protect Yourself, Too

As an MSP, you also have to remember that your team is a big target, too. Anyone or any company that deals in cybersecurity sits firmly in the crosshairs of cybercriminals today. Bad actors, particularly those funded by nation states, love going after the people who not only protect the SMB but hold the keys to their networks and data.

No one wants to be "that MSP who exposed its clients" to a ransomware attack. The damage these incidents cause to your company, from the loss of customers and reputation to lawsuits and regulatory fines, can be devastating and irreversible in many cases.

MSPs are quite skilled at addressing each of these vulnerabilities, for their clients and themselves. With effective monitoring and cybersecurity tools, including anti-ransomware applications like CryptoStopper, you can offer everyone peace of mind − while building yourself a profitable WFH IT support practice.

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